November 22, 2009

Job Hopefuls Seek Jackpot

Prospect of slots casino jobs, contracts draws thousands to Cordish expo
For three hours Thursday, thousands of people poured through the food court at Arundel Mills mall, hoping to score information on one of 4,000 jobs that will be available if Cordish Cos. builds its proposed slots casino nearby.
Barbara Burnopp, a 47-year-old welder from Severn, was at the job and vendor fair with her sister, Betty Myers of Ferndale. Unemployed since February, Burnopp saw opportunities in her trade once construction begins, but like many yesterday, both women said they were just looking for something.
"Nowadays, I'm willing to do anything," Burnopp said.
Cordish Cos. officials said that although zoning legislation to allow slots at Arundel Mills has not yet been passed by the County Council, they are confident it will be.
"We believe that as this process rolls along, we have to be ready," said Zed Smith, Cordish director of asset management. "We believe that at some point the zoning will pass."
Some 12,000 people signed up to be part of that contact list, according to Cordish. The company also used the job fair as an opportunity to get some of those hopefuls to ask the council to approves that zoning legislation.
Company officials offered prewritten postcards for council members. County residents at the expo could sign their name on one of the cards, which the company planned to send to council members as a show of support for slots at Arundel Mills.
The Baltimore developer is projecting the casino would generate 2,500 temporary construction jobs and 1,500 permanent positions. The expects $60 million per year to be spent in the community for various good and services necessary to run the casino.
Potential vendors, contractors and employees spent the expo filling out applications so Cordish could put them in a database, which the developer plans to use as a means to pass along information to them as its plans move forward.
Tables were set up throughout the food court for the various fields: security, surveillance, food and beverage, accounting and finance as well information technology.
Representatives of Anne Arundel Workforce Develop Corp. and Anne Arundel Community College also were on hand to talk about training and help available.
Roy Carson, chairman of the business administration department at AACC, said the college was there simply to get the word out about its training programs, since it's too early to tell what specific training casino employees would need.
"We have a very wide range or programs," he said. "I think almost any training people may need we can provide."
Job seekers
Information on job opportunities ranged from entry level jobs such as cooks, clerks and food runners to highly skilled jobs such as emergency medical technician training coordinators, assistant pastry chefs and kitchen mechanics.
"We certainly welcome and encourage Anne Arundel County residents to come to take advantage of these opportunities," said Gene Condon, the mall's general manager. "The unemployment in Anne Arundel County is fairly high." The county jobless rate last month was 6.5 percent, well above the normal 3.5 to 4 percent. At its peak, the number of jobless in the county during the recession has topped 19,000.
Many jobseekers came from outside the county. Baltimore city resident Jock Bogans, who's been unemployed for almost three months, came to check out what was available. He previously worked as a custodian in Jessup.
"I'm looking to either get retrained, go back into the same field or get a better job," he said. "Any job, it doesn't even matter, as long as I get a job."
On the other side of the food court, tables were set up for vendors and contractors seeking information about procurement, general contracting and design and engineering.
Jake Jarosz, an estimator for Commercial Interiors of Hanover, was working at the general contracting table. He said the project will need all types of contractors.
"Everyone wants to be involved," said Jarosz, whose company is an advisory to Cordish on hiring contractors. "It's a big job and it's high profile."
Jim Joyce, a sales manager from Clarksburg-based Rentals Unlimited, thinks his company could benefit greatly in the casino's construction. It rents all types of equipment and tools, with about 10,000 pieces available.
"On a job like this, there's going to be 70 to 80 percent rented equipment," he said. "The stuff they'd be using is too expensive to buy."
Bob Weyrich, vice president of Glen Burnie-based Innovative Copy Products, said he was there to keep his company's name out in the public. The economy has slowed down the demand for copy machines and other office technology.
"It's just another opportunity," he said. "You have to keep on scratching and clawing. The people that don't don't survive."